Is Our Goal to Trick People?

Last week, in a post titled ‘Should Marketing Look Like Marketing’, we concluded that if you show an ad to the right person at the right time, what it looks like matters less than many of us would think.

But it brought up a larger question about the purpose of marketing. When marketers and advertisers try to design ads that don’t look like ads, what they’re really doing is trying to trick people.

Is that really what we do? Is our goal as marketers to trick people into consuming our content and buying our products?

The evolution of marketing and advertising is an interesting one. We now have more ways to advertise with more consumers, in more places, more often. Advertising dominates our society. And because of that, today’s consumers are:

  1. Less likely to notice ads, and
  2. More likely to distrust ads

It’s our own fault, as advertisers. We overloaded people with ads because they worked, and I guess we expected them to always work otherwise we’d squeeze as much effectiveness out of them as we could before they stopped working.

But our response to people not noticing or not trusting ads should not be to trick people into looking at them. When we design ads to not look like ads, we might get an extra click, but we don’t grow sales.

We grow sales by getting people to trust us again. We grow sales by making a connection with people and delivering on our promises.

If your goal is to trick people into looking at your ads, you’re fighting a losing battle.